Travel to Yogyakarta is a must as it is one of the places to visit Java, Indonesia. It is also interchangeably known as Jogjakarta or Jogja, or Yogya (you decide!) by travelers and locals alike. Of all the places you must visit in Java, this is the one place you cannot miss.
Yogyakarta is packed with all the intricacies of a good travel place with hidden treasures of bygone days, narrow alleys and main streets of delights, a vast array of delicious food to try, arts and cultures dotted everywhere, and rich histories. Most importantly, it is near to two of the largest ancient temples, Buddhist and Hindu, both equally magnificent and humbling in their way. Being a city of half a million people, Yogyakarta is packed in with travelers worldwide, thanks to its tourist attractions. Come here and find out what it means by indeed traveling to Indonesia.
Where is Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta, also known as Jogja or Jogjakarta, is a city located on the island of Java, Indonesia. It is situated in the southern part of Central Java province, near the southern coast of the island. Yogyakarta is known for its rich cultural heritage, including traditional arts, music, and historical sites. It is a popular tourist destination and is often referred to as the cultural and intellectual hub of Indonesia.
Why visit Yogyakarta
Come here to discover the two ancient temples that are part of Indonesia’s UNESCO World Heritage sites – a foreboding unique circular Buddhist temple Borobudur and a magnificent legendary Prambanan. Not to mention the city is filled with arts and cultures and rich in history with Kraton Palace and the Water Castle. Plus, the food here is the epitome of Javanese cuisine. The people are friendly, and the place is well-connected with the Transjogja bus.
Best time to visit Yogyakarta
The best time to visit Yogyakarta would be the dry season, generally from April to October, so you can get the best out of your time without rain dampening your activities. But it is still possible to travel in the rainy season for it usually only rains in the evening so you can still do everything during the day. The day starts early here, with the city bustling by 6 am.
Places to visit in Yogyakarta
Prambanan – a well known ancient Hindu temple built in the 9th century for Trimurti as an expression that God is the Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu), and also the Destroyer (Shiva). The temple compound lies just 18km east of Yogyakarta and can be easily reached with the Transjogja public bus, which is the cheapest and best option to visit Prambanan. It is one of the Indonesia UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of Southeast Asia’s largest Hindu temple architecture.
Kraton Palace– This is a palace from the days of the Sultans of Yogyakarta, with its own unique architecture and many heirlooms of the glory days. Be sure to get a guide to walk you through the palace (it’s free) so that you will understand and appreciate better the history and culture of Jogja.
Taman Sari (Water Castle) – This castle is a massive complex that served as a former royal garden of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, and it has various functions, including a surreal bathing place. The blue pool stands starkly against the pink buildings making it almost surreal.
Candi Sambisari – among the many Candi (temples) scattered around Yogyakarta, this one stands out as it used to be buried five meters underground for hundreds of years until the first slab of stone was discovered in 1966, and it had been slowly reconstructed since then. Moreover, it is a good stopover on the way to Prambanan.
Things to do in Yogyakarta
Shopping – Shopping in Yogyakarta will be a delight, with shops along Jalan Malioboro and Pasar Beringharjo that offer so much Indonesian goods like rattan products, silver jewelry, food, household items, and handmade products.
Golf – Many tout that this is the finest place to play golf in Indonesia, with the famous 18 holes golf course at Mount Merapi’s slopes. You can enjoy the scenic view of the mountains while playing golf, somewhat of a golfer’s paradise. The international firm Thomson Wolveridge & Perret designed this famous golf course.
Best Accommodations in Yogyakarta
In Yogyakarta, staying in the city center would help to save time in visiting all the must-visit places, but if you are looking for also some relaxation, just a little off-center to the north or south are some great choices. Here are a few of the best accommodations that we recommend for staying in Yogyakarta:
Luxury (from 150 USD)
- Rosseno Villa For those who want tranquillity and privacy, this villa lies just 15 minutes south of the city center, surrounded by rice fields. It has a private pool, all meals provided, and all-day car use and driver use! Well worth the splurge here.
- Phoenix Hotel – McGallery by Sofitel Run by the well-known Sofitel, this hotel is for those who want luxury in the center of Yogyakarta. The hotel’s interior comes with a blend of grand Asian and European decor, with terraces overlooking a courtyard and pool.
Mid-range (50 – 150 USD)
- Novotel Yogyakarta For those who seek a well-known brand and comfort, this hotel is located strategically to visit tourist attractions. You can expect clean, modern rooms with a wide range of delicious breakfasts. It also comes with a pool—definitely value for money.
- Dusun Jogja Village Inn For those looking for a nature getaway and some tranquility, this hotel is like an oasis in the middle of the city. Surrounded by tropical gardens of palm trees around a beautiful pool. It is also well located, just south of the main attractions area.
Budget (below 50 USD)
- Griya Wijilan Just nestled next to the Keraton Palace, this small and Javanese-designed boutique hotel is for those who know a good deal. The location is hard to beat! There is also a lovely terrace and garden for those hanging out to rest between the hustle and bustle.
- Rumah Mertua Boutique Hotel For those looking for a boutique hotel that combines comfort with the budget, this hotel comes with Javanese-decorated rooms and a pool surrounded by romantic gardens. It is a 20-minute drive north of the city center in a tranquil setting.
What and Where to Eat in Yogyakarta
Gudeg – touted as the City of Gudeg, this dish is a must try. It is a unique Indonesian dish a stew made from young jackfruit (nangka) with palm sugar, coconut milk, meat, garlic, and spices. The special taste came from the slow melding of flavors and textures to perfection. Get a taste of gudeg at the longest-standing establishment – Gudeg Yu Djum.
Ayam Goreng – also famous for its fried chicken/ Free range chicken, is melded with flavors of garlic and coriander and then fried to perfection. A place to try this is Ayam Goreng Mbok Berek
Nasi Langgi – it is something that locals eat most of the time, warm rice served with various dishes you can choose your own. Get them at the small stall on Gandekan Street.
Angkringan – used to be sold by people using a hopper as storage, now it can be found in restaurants. This humble dish consisted of a small serving of rice with sambal wrapped inside a banana leaf. The most popular angkringan is Angkringan Lik Man, also known as Angkringan Tugu, as it is located near the Tugu station.
Kopi Joss – don’t forget to try out this Javanese espresso dipped with burning coal, Indonesia’s answer to a good old coffee.
For a slightly higher budget but worth it, you should try out Gajah Wong. I have to say the food here is up to standard, and I might even go as far as naming it the best restaurant in Yogyakarta. You can find the finest Javanese cuisine here. If you are at the right time, you may also be accompanied by the Javanese gamelan music performed live.
How to get to Yogyakarta
Fly into Yogyakarta’s Adisucipto International Airport, just 8km east of town, it is one of the very convenient airport hubs. Garuda serves frequent flights here and connects to Denpasar a few times a day. Other Indonesian domestic airlines also fly here from Jakarta, Denpasar, Surabaya, and other major cities. International flights like Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines fly to Yogyakarta from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Air Asia also flies from Singapore to Yogyakarta.
How to get around
One of the novel ways to get around Yogyakarta is on a Becak, in which you can feel the city as you go by. Remember to haggle the price before getting on.
The best bus to take here is Transjogja, which connects nearly every corner of Yogyakarta and even up to Prambanan. Look out for the bus stops scattered around the town to get on one. For the routes, you can always ask the attendant at the stop for assistance. A single trip usually costs around 3,000 Rp. When you are ready to get off, either flag at the driver/helper or else knock on the windows as the locals do.
Ojek (motorbike taxi)
Many people are walking around, especially on Malioboro, who would want to serve you with their motorbike; remember to haggle for the price before getting on any. It is a good choice to avoid traffic during rush hour.
You can always rent a car with a driver here, driving is not recommended with the crazy Indonesian traffic. Rental may vary around 400,000 Rp for a full day.
Where to go nearby
Borobudur– 1-hour drive from Yogyakarta, this 9th-century temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the world and is one of Indonesia’s UNESCO Heritage sites. It comprises six square platforms with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues. Thousands of Buddhists make their pilgrimage here in Borobudur during Waisak day.
Surakarta (Solo) – a nearby town famous for its Batik.
Parangtritis beach – the nearest beach to Yogyakarta; the locals flock here during the weekend.
Surabaya – the next major city from Yogyakarta; here, you will use it as a springboard to many other places with the second major airport of Indonesia. You can also make your way to Mount Bromo from here.
Yogyakarta Travel Tips
Stay safe here as petty crimes are rampant such as pickpocketing, especially on the local bus. Also, watch out for many scams that prey on tourists here, the most famous is the one that tries to get you to see how students make batik in an art center and then tries to sell to you at crazy prices.